The Buffalo Bills have hit their annual November lull, and the writers in charge of most major NFL power rankings have adjusted accordingly. In years past, the Bills dropped off much worse in November than they have this season. With heightened expectations, however, this season’s drop in efficiency feels somewhat worse.
Whereas the Bills were a unanimous No. 1 team in September and October, they’ve dipped somewhat as the year has progressed. The trials and tribulations of a long NFL season wear on every team, and for Buffalo, those trials have involved injury, wild weather, and travel over short weeks. And through all of that, the Bills remain 8-3.
We start our power rankings journey with Conor Orr at Sports Illustrated. He has Buffalo ranked No. 4 this week. Orr writes that there’s no shame in battling “The Fighting Dan Campbells,” aka the Detroit Lions, but he does think that a “reliance” on quarterback Josh Allen running the football is cause for concern.
Dan Hanzus at NFL Network ranked Buffalo No. 5 this week, which is one spot lower than he had them previously. While he gives kicker Tyler Bass his due for hitting a game-winning 45-yard field goal on Thanksgiving Day, Hanzus correctly notes that the game will be more remembered for the play that set it up, a 36-yard missile from Josh Allen to Stefon Diggs to bring the Bills from their own 25-yard line to field goal range in an instant. He calls the Bills a team “finding its footing after some midseason turbulence.”
Nate Davis at USA Today dropped the Bills two spots after their Thanksgiving Day win, and he has them at No. 4 this week. Davis goes very dark in his assessment of Buffalo’s season, writing that the Bills are doomed in the wake of defensive end Von Miller’s knee injury. He writes that “ [Miller’s] knee injury might mean the difference between a Super Bowl—and maybe even the AFC East crown—and another Lombardi-less winter in Western New York.”
Frank Schwab at Yahoo! kept the Bills at No. 5 this week. He writes that “A tight win over the Lions isn’t what championship dreams are made of,” but he also acknowledges what Buffalo overcame in order to win that game. He goes on to assume that a little rest and continued honing of their strengths should lead to a positive outcome for the team.
Vinnie Iyer at Sporting News has Buffalo ranked No. 4 this week, which is the same spot he had them last week. Iyer writes that Allen looked a bit more like himself against the Lions on Thanksgiving, but he rightly called the win a “grind.” Allen wasn’t as deadly efficient as he could have been, but it’s hard to complain about a three-touchdown, 330-yard performance when taking into account his passing and rushing numbers combined.
The ESPN panel has Buffalo ranked No. 3, which is exactly where they were last week (and their highest placement this week). Alaina Getzenberg was tasked with writing about the team’s expectations for the year, and she wrote that it’s still “win the Super Bowl.” She goes on to note that the team hasn’t been as sharp as they were before their bye since returning from that week off, but with three straight divisional games, Buffalo controls its own destiny in terms of winning the AFC East. If they can do that, she writes, there’s “no reason they couldn’t go all the way.”
Austin Gayle at The Ringer has Buffalo ranked No. 3, as well. They’re the final team in his “Best of the Best” tier. Gayle writes that Allen “elevates his teammates,” and has been able to do so in spite of a “nagging” injury to his throwing elbow. Gayle reasons that Allen is one of the main causes for Buffalo’s success in withstanding an “onslaught” of injuries on the defensive side, and he writes about how star pass rusher Miller has now joined the group of injured players on that side of the ball.
Dalton Miller at Pro Football Network has Buffalo ranked No. 4, sitting atop his “conference title contenders” tier. In Miller’s eyes, Buffalo has fallen out of the “elite” tier. He writes that Josh Allen’s elbow injury “has to be bothering him more than the team is letting on” because of how inconsistently he’s played over the last three games. He closes by noting that, for as inconsistent as the Bills have been of late, they’re still one of the NFL’s most well-rounded clubs, as they rank in the top ten in efficiency on offense, defense, and special teams.
Mike Florio at Pro Football Talk has Buffalo ranked No. 5 this week. His one-sentence writeup reads as follows: “Their games are far closer than they should be.” That kind of #analysis definitely speaks to the overall talent and expectations surrounding the Bills this year. I, too, wish their games weren’t as close—it would be much better for my heart—but it wasn’t long ago that analysts were dogging the Bills about their inability to win close games because they either blew teams out or lost tight ones. The NFL season is a long, winding road, and Buffalo is halfway to where they want to be.
Finally, Pete Prisco at CBS Sports has Buffalo ranked No. 4 this week. His writeup is short and sweet, as he notes that losing Miller for a long period of time will impact Buffalo’s defense negatively. That much is obvious, as it’s impossible to replicate what a star of Miller’s caliber does on a weekly basis.